The bus ride was a l-o-n-g one from Porto, to Lisbon, then to Sevilla. We landed at 5:30am which was too early for even the station lockers to be available. We were so early, the night club across the street was still pounding music – just before their 6:00am last call. No kidding. Funny to be starting our day at the same time a bunch of kids were ending theirs.
Didn’t Realize At The Time
We wandered the boardwalk along the river, waltzed through the winding, narrow
lanes of Sevilla, and saw the sun rise through the roman doors of the main plaza.
The whole scene changed by 9:30. The place was teeming with tourists. Don’t get me wrong, most our stops have been tourist destinations. However, this was a different tourist: they have bigger cameras, longer selfie sticks, and carry shopping bags.
Sevilla (aka Seville)
As a tourist, Sevilla is a destination you could tackle in a day. The highlights are compact:
- a ginormous cathedral, as in Guinness Book largest gothic church in the world (thank you Ferdinand & Isabella);
- a breathtaking Mudéjar palace, the Real Alcázar, which even the holier than everybody –that would be Ferdinand & Isabella- left standing, despite its Muslim influences (another thank you); and
- a bullring, the Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla, which Ferdinand & Isabella had nothing to do with, they preferred human torture.
We had three full days to explore, and of these big attractions, we chose only the Real Alcázar to throw our euros at. Bullrings are in many Spanish cities, but Seville’s is known for its grand scale. Apparently size matters… it can be intimidating to the matador. As for the Gothic cathedral, which houses some of Spain’s finest and historical art, at 9EUR a piece to get in, we settled for our early morning pop-in.
Nothing I read prepared me for the magnitude of the Real Alcázar. It was simply amazing. Photos won’t do it much justice, but here we go:
The garden of this courtyard is sunken. The notion is that royalty does not need to do more than simply pluck a choice fruit from an eye level grasp.
The Real Alcázar seems to go on & on, architecture overload – even for me! Probably a dozen gardens, multiple courtyards and beautiful fountains. After just three and half hours, we had to take a break.
So, Just What Do You Do, If You Skip Two of Three “Must Sees”?
Well, people watching, eating and gelato are a few of my favs. However on day two, Woody & I woke up with a shared dream: haircut! Heck, we need to track down the Barber of Seville. Don’t you see Bugs Bunny now?…. Click HERE for Woody’s blog on it.
The Place for Flamenco is Sevilla
Based on our research, the best flamenco is the spontaneous variety, as opposed to a geared-to-tourists dinner show. Let me tell you, it is very difficult to find “spontaneous.” We tried. We pushed our internal clocks to the wee morning hours and fell short. We managed a fair second, thanks to street artists. I may be off the mark, but I think the street artists are as auténtico as gypsies of the distant past. Passionate cries of heartbreak, the need for $$, combined with fierce palmas and foot stomping, result in some expressive flamenco.
When Things Don’t Go As Planned
Plans? What “plans?” It wouldn’t be right for me to complain about “things not turning out as planned,” when we travel with just the next 24 hours in our sites. We had a pin on our map to get to Morocco on this journey. We traveled to Tarifa where we knew we could connect with tour operators who could arrange a 3-5 day, “pick & choose” tour excursions. Tarifa, the southern most point in the EU, has a “hang-loose” beach vibe, and a big-wind, kite surfing draw. We were a little surprised to see how fast things were booking up, but found a nice Airbnb.
Tarifa is the launchpad to Morocco. What we didn’t see coming was Fiesta Nacional de España. Or, as we would say, Columbus Day. October 12th is the day Columbus discovered America and because it landed in the middle of the week, Spaniards connect it to the weekends, extending it as much as possible. We tried three different travel agents, the best they could do was 6 to 8 hours in Tangiers. That translates to 6 to 8 hours of shopping. Not our thing. The strange part was, when asked if we could book for the following week, they said it was possible, but to come back next week to see. (I’m fairly certain the tour operators were anxious to start their holiday. rather than deal with these last minute crazies.)
Ultimately, Tarifa turned out to be too small to hangout for a full week, and not knowing if Morocco would come together, we decided it was time to move on…